Meteorologists must often apply weather and climate information to commodity purchases in the food industry or marketing strategies in the clothing industry. Companies such as Liz Claiborne are looking to meteorologists to help them determine when to market winter coats and how to stock the racks to meet changing seasonal onsets. But that poses a problem. Meteorologists are often not trained to work in the business sector. Now, Penn State University is investigating how to educate future forecasters to understand and operate in a business atmosphere thanks to a new research project funded by the National Science Foundation.
The Weather Risk Management option is the solution. Students at Penn State, a leading institution for meteorology studies, will soon bring together climatology, atmospheric sciences, air quality, environmental meteorology and weather forecasting in the undergraduate meteorology department at Penn State. For example, one undergraduate in meteorology enrolled in the new option was once an airline flight attendant. But the new option will allow the student to advise airlines on ways to save fuel, schedule flights and accommodate tourists. Another top masters students was just hired by Mars, the candy company, to join their research group that looks at commodity pricing risk.